How do you speak a rabbit’s language?

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How do you speak a rabbit's language?

Do you know that rabbits communicate using facial expressions and body language? Are there some of these body languages you’ve been deciphering wrongly?

Rabbits don’t make sounds like dogs or cats do, so to better understand them requires observation and effort, which might be a little bit difficult because one language could translate to a lot of things. 

Rest assured, we will be explaining what to do in many situations with your rabbits and how to engage with them for more fun sessions. 

If this sounds like something you’re genuinely curious about, then how do you speak a rabbit’s language? 

How do you speak a rabbit’s language?

A rabbit speaks different languages on an everyday basis. Luckily, you don’t have to keep observing them closely all the time as you have a guide to understanding a rabbit’s language.

Check out the list below to find out what exactly you’ve been missing out on.

Rabbit languages and their meanings:

  1. Licking: Has your rabbit tried licking you almost every time? Then you’re special to your pet, as what licking means is, “I love you.” A rabbit’s lick is simply a sign of affection.
  2. Screaming: Rabbits are cute, mischievous animals, but if your little pet is screaming, it means she’s in pain or she feels frightened. A visit to the vet would be the best option if you ever have a screaming rabbit.
  3. Ears: Ears mean everything to a rabbit. Rabbits use their ears to express themselves. Both ears forward, both ears back, one ear forward, one back means, “something has caught my attention.”
  4. Grunting: This is to show disapproval, and it’s always followed by biting or scratching. If two rabbits are grunting at each other, it means they don’t like each other, and you should try separating them, as it could lead to aggressive behaviors to prove who the dominant one is.
  5. Nipping: Nipping is a little pinch and this means your rabbit is calling for your attention or warning you. On the other hand, if your rabbit nips you during grooming, it means she loves it and wants to return the favor by doing the same for you. 
  6. Tense body: Upright tail, laid-back ears. Watching out to lunge and biting could follow with that.
  7. Lunging: Lunging is a sign of disapproval, and this happens when you reach into your rabbit’s cage to feed them. Get them used to whatever you want to do by petting your rabbit.
  8. Happy feet: Hind feet stretched out fully behind your rabbit means: “I’m relaxed and I feel comfortable.”
  9. Don’t touch my stuff: If you rearrange things in their cage or take things away from their position, rabbits rebel because they like things to remain the way they are.
  10. Third inner eyelid in the corner of the eye: This indicates fright, stress, or uneasiness. Check out what’s happening around your rabbit to ease and calm them in situations like this.
  11. Chinning: Rabbits are extremely territorial animals. What chining means is when they rub the underside of their chin on you, their toys, or food, it just means they’re claiming what’s theirs with their sweat.
  12. Dancing: “Happy, content, things are great.” A dancing rabbit would dash about the room, kick up her heels, and make a 180-degree turn mid-air just to show happiness.
  13. Begging: This is the look you can’t resist and almost everyone knows this; eyes and cute mouth begging for sweet treats, but remember to give sparingly. 
    Never allow their eyes and mouth to fool you into giving them more. Sweet treats are great but harmful to their health.
Rabbit biting a paper
Rabbit biting a paper
  1. Tail-wagging: If your rabbit is wagging its tail, it means she’s trying to prove she has her own say in things. For instance, that could mean, “I don’t want to go into my cage.” Tail-wagging means nothing but defiance.
  2. REM sleep: REM sleep occurs in humans as well as rabbits. This happens when we’re dreaming, so if your rabbit’s eyelids or ears twitch, whiskers vibrate, it just means they’re dreaming.
  3. Thumping: Thumping occurs when they’re trying to express displeasure or to get your attention. Especially after you’ve gone to bed and the thumping continues. It could also mean they’re trying to convey annoyance.
  4. Flopping: The dramatic fall means your rabbit is totally relaxed, comfortable, and happy. They feel good about everything that’s happening to them, and that’s a good thing.
  5. Territory droppings: Scattered droppings mean that the territory belongs to the rabbit. They sometimes do this when they’re in a new environment, but proper training could help reduce the incidence of this.
  6. Nose-nudging: Nose-nudging can be translated as: “pet me,” or “move out of my way.”
  7. Honking: Honking is a courting behavior.
  8. Circling: A sign of a hormonal rabbit. This happens when an unneutered rabbit tries to gain attention from a human companion. 
  9. Spraying: This is when your rabbit sprays your feet with urine. Males that are not neutered will spray, and so will the females. It’s a sign that your rabbit is ready to be desexed.

When you notice this, make sure to get it done, as a rabbit should be desexed before a year of age. Apart from its reproductive behavior benefits, it helps prevent testicular diseases, urine spraying, accidental pregnancies, aggressions, and malignant cancers.

  1. Tooth clicking: This also happens when a rabbit is happy, relaxed, or being stroked.
  2. Tooth grinding: This shows up as stress or if your rabbit is in severe pain, accompanied by hunching up in a corner. Visit the vet’s office to check what’s wrong with your rabbit.
  3. Whimper: If your rabbit whimpers, check for injury or if there’s something frightful around.
  4. Binkies: Leaps into the air, twist bodies, kick feet, shake head and ears, little jump… all signs for a happy rabbit. 

Note that some rabbits might not do it excessively, some could do it and never get caught; but if your rabbit binks all the time but has now stopped, check with the vet. 

  1. Flicking back legs. Turning back, flicking its back leg at you means, “I’m furious with you.”
  2. Nose bonking: A friendly way of saying, “Hello.”
  3. Pushing feeding bowls, objects, and toys: This means, “It’s time for my meal” or she’s just playing with the objects. If you don’t have toys for your rabbit at that point, get them some to push around.
  4. Charging. Dogs charge, and so do rabbits. This is when they start running towards you without stopping. What this translates to is simply, “You’re in my way.”

Do rabbits like to be spoken to?

Rabbits are social animals, and they love to be spoken to. It proves to them that they are a part of something special, that you have a close bond enough to talk with them. Over time, they might start to recognize your voice.

But how can you achieve this? Call them by their names whenever you’re about to feed them or play games with them. 

There’s no trick to getting it right. Make it fun, take it slow, and soon enough, when you call out for your rabbit, she will come over to you.

Why do rabbits follow you around?

Rabbit smelling a flower
Rabbit smelling a flower

This is quite simple: your rabbit follows you around because she needs your attention and wants you two to play. Or perhaps, you always give out sweet treats, so she thinks she could get some from you again.

How do rabbits say sorry?

Rabbits also communicate with each other using body language, so, if one of your rabbits wronged the other, they would touch heads to say sorry and that’s it. Although some rabbits are difficult to deal with, they will eventually accept the apology.

How do rabbits say thank you?

If you give rabbits sweet treats, they will thank you by licking your hand or leg. As I mentioned earlier, licking is a sign of affection.

How do bunny rabbits talk?

Rabbits don’t speak human language, but they communicate using body language and facial expressions.

What language do bunnies understand?

Some bunnies understand gestures and verbal cues. If you find your rabbit doing something bad and you tell her no, next time she finds you coming, she’ll leave the act. 

This all boils down to training your rabbit to understand what you mean.

How do you say I love you to a bunny?

There are a lot of ways to show your rabbit she’s special:

  1. Treats. Rabbits can’t resist sweet treats even though a large amount is harmful to their health. If you give out a considerable amount, it’s a way to show your rabbit that you do love her.
  2. Grooming sessions. Bunnies are self-groomers and ingested fur is damaging to their health. Helping them with their grooming routines shows you care about your pet’s well-being. 
  3. Play with them. Getting your rabbits’ toys so they don’t keep nudging their feeding bowls is another way of telling them that you recognize their need to stay active. And don’t just get them toys, you can find ways to also bond with them.
  4. Pet them. We know bunnies get enough of that during their grooming sessions, but it shouldn’t be limited to that time. Place your hand on their heads to calm them, and cuddle them whenever you’re free.
  5. Make sure the environment is safe. There’s nothing that would make a rabbit happier in the world than a safe environment free from predators, because that’s when they exhibit body language that shows happiness and contentment.

Finally, go with the list above to make them happy, get creative, and think of other ideas, and that’s all you really need to show your rabbit, “I love you” without vocalizing it.

Rabbit Body Language Explained


Understanding a rabbit’s language might seem complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. All you have to do is observe.

Visit the vet if you have any concerns as regards your rabbit’s health and remember that the most important thing is to always try to communicate with your rabbit.

It’s good for their well-being, it makes them feel comfortable, and that way, you have nothing to worry about because whenever your rabbit tries something new, you know what to do about it.

Photo of author


Jennifer Bourassa is a passionate animal lover and the founder of The Rabbit Retreat, a website dedicated to educating rabbit owners and providing them with the necessary resources to care for their furry friends. With over a decade of experience in rabbit care, Jennifer is a knowledgeable and compassionate advocate for these beloved pets. Jennifer's love for rabbits started when she adopted her first bunny, Thumper, and quickly realized the joy and challenges that come with rabbit ownership. Since then, she has made it her mission to help other rabbit owners navigate the ins and outs of bunny care, from feeding and grooming to housing and more. With The Rabbit Retreat, Jennifer hopes to build a community of like-minded rabbit enthusiasts who can share their experiences and support one another in providing the best possible care for their furry companions.